Saturday, 24 March 2018

우정의 다리, мост дружбы

With a working-group being appointed to explore fording a second link between Russia and North Korea to supplement the Friendship Bridge—the sole crossing built in 1959 to allow train service over the Tumen River by special arrangement only and notably since last year a fibre optic cable, Calvert Journal correspondent Tom Masters candidly shares his railway journal from Pyongyang to Vladivostok. The account makes for an interesting read and the trip is illustrated with a lot of photographs. One of the only other points of entrance and egress for the country is the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge over the Yalu River, originally spanned by the Japanese Imperial Army when it occupied north-eastern China and the Korean peninsula during WWII, which allows both trains and cars but no pedestrian traffic.

their floors are sticky-mart

I was impressed and perhaps inspired when challenged inventor and noted 1970s men’s cologne Elon Musk deleted his Facebook pages for his enterprises—offering that they were pretty lame anyway. I hope others will follow Musk’s example, but while the great and the good can just will it so, it’s harder for most to just sever ties, despite how much it might be in our best interest, and send the message to all and sundry to be better stewards (volunteered or otherwise) of our data, realising that privacy policies begin with each of us. To better appreciate and anticipate the abusive and manipulative cloying that lasts until the final signing-off (and probably well beyond) Boing Boing directs us to a step-by-step narrative and reflection of the hurdles one must negotiate in order to unburden oneself of the social media platform. Your friends will miss you!

Friday, 23 March 2018

garbage in / garbage out

Though it is quite possible that for the present that the boasts of political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica regarding the scope of its role in swaying recent elections is just that—a little immodesty and exaggeration to reinforce their relevance—and perhaps an uncalculated bit of misdirection and subterfuge from the real agents imposing dear costs on rationality and reasonableness, it would nonetheless be ill-advised to be complacent and be unready in the event that such social engineering and manipulation becomes highly effective in the future and that what information we volunteer cannot be used against us.  


From the curated newsfeed of Damn Interesting, we learn that astronomers by reverse engineering present conditions and vectors have worked out that the Solar System was grazed by a passing red dwarf some seventy thousand years ago.
Though fifty thousand times further than the Sun is from the Earth, the flyby of Scholz’s star (named for its discoverer Ralf-Dieter Scholz of the Leibniz-Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam who also worked out the prehistoric trajectory) came within one light year’s distance and was probably visible as a dim red smudge in the night sky. The red dwarf is also suspected to be a binary system, paired with a non-luminous, invisible brown dwarf, or giant planet and those gravitational disruptions the visiting star caused will eventually—in about another million years—send a volley of comets into the inner Solar System. It’s an intriguing comfort to know that humans and Neanderthals that shared the Earth looked up and into the night and made up stories about what that red, marauding blur might be—but that mythology is only conjecture, just as how humans or other beings might interpret the omens of those future comets.

yes, I am the lorax who speaks for the trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please

Via Kottke’s Quick Links, we are introduced to a Berlin-based internet search engine called Ecosia whose simple and transparent business model based on advertisement revenue (if they’re going to profile you, invade your brain and vie for your attention anyway, then let it be at least for a good cause) has so far managed to underwrite the planting of approaching twenty four million trees—with a goal of a billion more trees by 2020.
We’ve grown keenly aware  of the contribution of forests to ecological balance, biodiversity and climate stabilization but we’ve got a long way to go to make up for our thoughtless past behavior. Join the team at Ecosia on their journey to achieve this good turn for the planet.